I still tense up a little if I hear a car horn when cycling. I still glance around for escape routes.
This is a learnt behaviour which comes from many years of cycling in Britain, where car horns are used quite often by drivers to send an unpleasant message to cyclists supposedly committing some ill or other. The sound of a car horn would commonly be accompanied by that of squealing tyres, a revving engine or abuse through a car window. None of those things has happened to me in six years of living in The Netherlands, but I still cringe when I hear a horn.
|Still from the video showing "tooter" and "waver"|
|It would be absurd to imagine that|
the Dutch cycle because they are
genetically inclined to do so, yet
people often make this argument.
Every section of society can be
seen cycling in The Netherlands.
Immigrants find cycling nearly
so convenient as people who
were born here. The cyclists in
the video most likely to be singled
out and subject to criticism as an
out-group are the lycra clad and
helmeted "racers", one of whom is
in the background of this still.
The moped at the start of the
video represents another out-group
often accused of being dangerous
It is often the case that the behaviour which motorists and pedestrians complain about in other nations is actually teenage behaviour. For instance, when cycling is banned in a pedestrianized area, the only cyclists who will remain are those who are scoff-laws. Often they are teenagers. Teenagers push the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. That has always been so and it always will be so. The more that cycling is normalized, the more it is that teenage cyclists will follow the norms of behaviour which the majority follow.
The rise in cycling in The Netherlands came about due to normal people campaigning for safety. This campaigning which was inclusive of the population as a whole and not just for the benefit of a vocal minority. Cycling is not a revolutionary activity in the Netherlands. Long may this remain so.
Why we do tours
People sometimes wonder why it is that we operate Study Tours and what we have to offer that a Dutch person does not. The experience of having living and cycled for many years in less cycling friendly countries gives us perspectives that people who have not done this simply cannot have.
See also my other blog post from today about an excellent dynamo lighting special offer.